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A Helpful Parenting Framework: Galinsky’s Stages of Parenthood

When a child receives a food allergy diagnosis, it's common for parents to feel overwhelmed. Worrying thoughts may fill parents' minds with doubt and concern about how (and if) they will be able to prepare their food allergic child well enough to navigate this world on their one day.

It's important for parents to remember that time plays a key factor here!

It takes 9 months for a baby to develop and be ready for the outside world.

A kindergartner has over a decade of schooling to prepare himself/herself for college or work. Similarly, food-allergic kids acquire their skills over time, learning and applying them during each phase of development. 


The childhood stages of development can provide parents with benchmarks to help assess their own child's growth and progress. While this is useful information, it doesn't necessarily help parents understand their role at each stage of development. 

Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, conducted research that led to the development of the six stages of parenting. These six distinct stages offer parents a framework to help them understand not only what's happening during that age range, but what their tasks and goals might be. 

Taking this information one step further, I created the image below as part of a food allergy parenting webinar I presented in 2019 (click the link to watch it for free), which includes a basic overview of the food-allergic parent's tasks for each stage of parenthood. Additionally, I added descriptive titles (in bold) for each stage to help highlight the parenting role for each stage.

How is a parenting framework helpful?

While the parental task list in the previous image seems simplistic and certainly would include more than is listed above, this framework can help parents assess things such as: 

  • Am I helping my child develop the skills appropriate for this age/stage? 

  • What are my overall parenting goals for this current stage? 

  • Should I be focusing more on skills that will help my child transition to the next age/stage? 

  • Am I still doing too much for my child at their age, hindering them from learning age-appropriate skills they need to acquire? 

  • Am I spending too much time worrying about things that are in a future stage?

A framework such as this is a helpful reminder that as parents, the goal isn't to teach kids every skill they need right away. A child's age, stage of development, and personality help guide when and how to teach necessary life skills. 

It's also a reminder that what parents teach their children in one stage sets the foundation for teaching the skills within the next stage of development and parenting. Kindergarteners managing food allergies build upon the basic skills parents have taught them as preschoolers. Food-allergic high schoolers are learning additional skills and practicing strategies needed for them to develop into young adults who know how to manage their own healthcare needs.

So remember parents...

Rome wasn't built in a day, nor is a fully-prepared young adult managing their food allergies. Use the gift of time and reminders of your parenting role at each stage of your child's development to help guide your skill-building activities.....and hopefully help your worried mind believe that you can do this!


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